Latin America & Caribbean

Neymar gives statement to police in Brazil amid rape allegation

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Media captionNeymar leaves a police station in Rio de Janeiro after making a statement

Brazil football star Neymar has attended a police station in Rio de Janeiro to make a statement following a rape allegation, his lawyer says.

The star denies raping Najila Trindade at a hotel in Paris on 15 May, and thanked his fans outside the station for their support.

Ms Trindade filed the allegation last Friday, telling a Brazilian TV channel she wanted justice.

MasterCard has suspended an advertising campaign with Neymar.

The credit card company said it would stop using images of the star, who is the world's most expensive signing and plays for French champions Paris St-Germain, until the situation was resolved.

Sportswear manufacturer Nike Inc said earlier it was "very concerned" about the rape accusation against Neymar, whom it sponsors.

What happened at the police station?

Neymar attended the station on crutches after having sustained an injury to his right ankle during Brazil's game with Qatar in Brasilia on Wednesday.

His lawyer, Maira Fernandes, told Reuters news agency: "Neymar has just given a statement. He made the point of coming as soon as he could to give a statement, to clarify everything that needed to be clarified.

"We are absolutely confident that we will prove the innocence of our client... The process was thorough but he provided all the clarifications that were to be provided."

Speaking at the door of the police station, Neymar said: "I appreciate the support and all the messages that the world has sent, my friends, my fans, that the world is with me. I want to say thank you for the well wishes, and say that I have felt very loved."

What is he accused of?

Ms Trindade, who is also from Brazil, says she met Neymar on Instagram.

She told the SBT Brasil channel she had been attracted to the footballer and had wanted to have sex with him. She said she had been flown to Paris and put up in a hotel at his expense.

When she met Neymar, she said he was "aggressive, totally different than the boy that I got to know through the messages".

She said she had been initially prepared for consensual sex but had demanded the use of a condom. Neymar had refused, become aggressive again and raped her, she said. She said she had told him to stop but he had refused.

She described the incident as "an assault together with rape".

SBT published part of the interview on Twitter (in Portuguese).

Video has surfaced. What does it show?

The video footage shows an altercation purported to be between Ms Trindade and Neymar in a hotel room, reportedly filmed by Ms Trindade.

The pair lie down on a bed, after which the woman stands and starts to slap the man, who defends himself with his feet.

The woman says: "I'm going to hit you, you know why. Because you beat me up yesterday", suggesting the altercation was a second meeting. Neymar has said that he and Ms Trindade met twice.

In the SBT interview, Ms Trindade said she had only begun to understand everything that had happened to her after the first meeting ended, and that she had returned because she wanted to prove the events and "wanted justice".

The video was shown on the Brazilian channel TV Record.

What has Neymar said about the accusations?

He has not commented so far on the TV interview but his father, Neymar dos Santos, was interviewed by TV Record about the hotel room footage and said it was clearly a set-up that proved his son was innocent.

In an earlier statement, Neymar's management called the accusations "unjust" and said the footballer had been the "victim of an attempted extortion".

Neymar repeated the extortion accusation in a seven-minute video on his Instagram page.

Speaking in Portuguese, the footballer said: "What happened that day was a relationship between a man and a woman, within four walls, like with any couple. And the next day nothing much happened. We kept exchanging messages. She asked me for a souvenir for [her child]."

During the video, the 27-year-old showed what he said were a long series of WhatsApp messages with Ms Trindade, including intimate photographs of her.

He said he had had to make them public to "prove that nothing really happened". In her interview, Ms Trindade denied accusations of extortion, saying: "I want justice, not financial compensation."

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited Neymar in hospital after the footballer's injury on Wednesday, wishing him "a good and speedy recovery". Mr Bolsonaro said earlier: "He is in a difficult moment, but I believe in him."

What's the legal situation?

The lawyers who first represented Ms Trindade say her initial complaint was of "aggression" or "physical violence" by Neymar. They said they had discussed a settlement with Neymar's lawyers but that those lawyers then rejected it. The two legal teams dispute who initially asked for the meeting.

Ms Trindade then filed a rape allegation in São Paulo last Friday. Her lawyers said the allegation was "incompatible with the strategy" they had agreed, and they parted company with her on Saturday. She now has new representation.

In her interview, Ms Trindade said of a lawyer in her first legal team: "He didn't fully believe me. I felt he was prejudiced. He portrayed it as if I'd not been raped, that I had wanted it."

Neymar could also face investigation over publishing the images of Ms Trindade without her permission, as the act may infringe laws designed to protect privacy.

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